Title aspirant Minerva hope to return to winning ways against Gokulam.

Tribune India

Minerva Punjab FC would look to return to winning ways when they take on seventh-placed Gokulam Kerala FC here tomorrow, if they desire to get closer to their maiden Hero I-League title.

But Minerva would adopt a cautious approach after their tiring 0-1 defeat at the hands of East Bengal at the Tau Devi Lal Stadium here, the venue for tomorrow’s match.

Meanwhile, the Kerala-outfit is in a blazing form after beating both Kolkata powerhouses in successive fixtures. They humbled Mohun Bagan 2-1 in Kolkata and then dented East Bengal’s title hopes by the same margin in Kozhikode.

Gokulam’s red hot form can be assessed from the fact that they have collected a total of 12 points in their last five matches.

Placed second in the points table with the title up for grabs, Minerva head coach Wangkhem Khogen Singh very well knows the significance of tomorrow’s fixture.

“The upcoming match against Gokulam is very important and we have already convinced our boys how important this match is for the I-League title. If we take 3 points in this match then we are on top,” Khogen said.

“The boys need to understand this and they will give 100 per cent in the match. In this league, the lower team or upper team doesn’t make any difference. Now we are in a tight situation. The title is close to our hands. But still, we need to work to get it,” he added.

Khogen said he wants to make some changes in his squad to ensure a favourable result as the tactical decision to play Gagandeep as a left back against East Bengal didn’t yield favourable results.

“We think the guy who played against us on our left side was strong and speedy too. We thought Bali can take him on since he is good in marking the players. We want to change one or two players from the last game we played but it’s not finalised,” he said.                   

Meanwhile, Gokulam Kerala FC coach Bino George said playing in the top flight league and rubbing shoulders with country’s premier clubs will provide his team with much-needed experience which will prove to be worthwhile for future.

“As for my team, all our young boys are gathering huge experience from each game. Playing in Hero I-League will give them experience which they don’t have at the moment,” he said.

He also said that his boys are not under any sort of pressure and that’s why they are playing free-flowing football at this moment.

“Minerva Punjab and East Bengal are fighting for the championship. We have no pressure. We will fight and try to play a better game. That is only my aim. Minerva is a good side. Kerala badly needed an I-League team for last 6 years and finally, we have one. Before the start of the season our target was mid-table finish so we are focusing on it,” he concluded. — PTI